Survival in an interactive, digital world requires tomorrow's information and communications products to be designed from a perspective of how human beings think and operate. Technology alone, however impressive and innovative it may be, no longer is the only key to success: customers are now looking for products that fit their needs and ways of thinking like a glove. Convergent Design Inc. provides the hard to find skills and experience to help you define, design and develop your products in this creative and exciting way. Convergent Design's ultimate goal is to help you design products that exceed expectations in terms of obvious customer value and total ease of use, and to do it right, the first time around.
Forecasting is the process of thinking
about the future as an extension of the present and the past. Products
developed through forecasting are usually characterized by "er"
words": faster, cheaper, smaller, and stronger. Forecasting is a form of
extrapolation that ultimately is self limiting: sooner or later, products
developed based on forecasting will reach plateaus of diminishing returns,
become too complex, carry too much baggage, or suffer sudden obsolescence
caused by power shifts.
Backcasting is the creative process of identifying future customer needs and core values, and interpolating back from there to current design strategies. The starting point for the backcasting approach is the definition of a desired situation at a determined point in the future. This leads to the development of scenarios that connect our present status with the desired future point.
Backcasting helps your product team identify, explore and clarify restrictions in their thinking about new opportunities, and helps the team to let go of these constraints. Backcasting also provides alternatives that challenges the solutions generated from forecasting.
Convergent Design Inc. uses an array of creative problem solving techniques to take your team through this process, and help them to begin a new development cycle with the future in mind
Visualization is the process of
making abstract product concepts easy to comprehend by representing them in
ways people can see, touch and feel, thereby capitalizing on some very strongly
developed human abilities. Visualization helps product development teams and
potential customers obtain a detailed understanding of the actual product early
in the development process, and helps the participants in the process focus on
the values delivered rather than the technology used. It is never too early in
the development process to start visualizing as long as the methods of
visualization match the development stage (e.g. simple sketches early in the
process, and more elaborate functional simulations and models in later stages).
In a way, visualization is a specific instance of Backcasting: it encourages
the team to think about the end result of the process, and interpolate back
from there to design strategies and technologies. Early visualization also
reinforces the understanding that the technology behind a successful product at
best becomes transparent. Ultimately, only what your customer can see, touch
and feel will constitute the product.
At Convergent Design Inc. we have experienced the power of early visualization on many occasions, and we deploy a variety of methods and techniques to help your development team capitalize on these values.
Where Backcasting and early
visualization focus on the value definition of the product, Convergent Design
aims to maximize the efficiency of the development process. Convergent Design
is not so much a method or technique in itself as the logical outcome of the
processes of Backcasting and Early Visualization. Significant development
efficiencies will be realized if the detailed product definition is completed
before, or in the early stages of the coding and building process. No longer
will development staff have to spend time and effort on deciding what to build,
but they can now totally focus on how to build it. It is like a well trained
army being sent to take a very specific hill.
Convergent Design Inc. has the experience to help you define and develop the product the ultimate design efficiency in mind
Using the methodologies described earlier, Convergent Design Inc. provides the multitude of disciplines and skills needed to help you design products that "fit like a glove". Most of the skills needed for this are provided directly by us, and others are provided under our management and supervision through various highly qualified associates.
The purpose of Requirements Analysis is to identify and intimately understand the crucial contributors to success of the proposed product, thereby contributing to the "de-risking" of the complex process of product development. Convergent Design Inc. deploys the following approaches to achieve this goal:
Convergent Design Inc. uses the
term User Interface Design in a broad context. In our approach, User Interface
Design comprises the overall definition of how the user interacts with the
product from a physical and software perspective. Therefore, User Interface
Design includes the definition of interaction procedures, the visual
representation thereof (such as Graphical User Interfaces, or GUIs), and the
physical representation of the product (the Industrial Design). We believe that
our mandate of designing products that exceed expectations in terms of obvious
customer value and total easy of use can best be achieved when we take such an
integrated approach towards product design.
The purpose of User Interface Design is twofold: to define the hardware and software operational features of the proposed product in sufficient detail to verify the product's future usability and marketability, and to provide the development team with the information to effectively build the product. Convergent Design Inc. deploys the following approaches to reach these goals:
Usability and Market verification is the final step in ensuring that the product will meet its goals in terms of obvious customer value and total easy of use. Usability verification focuses on the potential "users" of the product, Market Verification focuses on the potential "choosers" (the buying-decision makers) of the product. The results of the Usability and Market Verification occasionally require the product development team to re-consider some of the product assumptions or implementations. We recommend using the results of the Usability Verification as one of the inputs for the Market Verification research.
Convergent Design Inc. has the experience to continue to work with your development team to efficiently put the final design in place, to guide the inevitable cost-versus-function trade offs associated with the development stage, and, if needed, to offer additional alternatives optimized for customer acceptance. In this stage of the development, we also work with your training and documentation teams to ensure a careful match between product and product support material.
Convergent Design Inc. has
extensive experience in verification of the operational objectives of the
product in the field. We do this by deploying the test tools developed for, and
validated by the Usability Verification activity. By involvement in this
crucial phase of field testing, Convergent Design Inc. acts as a
"watchdog" for the occasional, but inevitable problems that attend
any new product offering in its early phases.
Convergent Design Inc's involvement in field testing is especially important when your product aims to deliver increased efficiencies or savings to the end user's organization: developing a test plan to verify these efficiencies and obtaining early agreement with your customer on this plan is crucial for the future profitability of your product.
Hans Bergman is owner and principal consultant of Convergent
Design Inc., a consulting firm specializing in human computer interaction
design and new product definition for the telecommunications and computer
industry. Hans is a Consultant
Member of the Canadian Telecommunications
Consultants Association, and fully subscribes to the association's Code of Ethics.
Hans established Convergent Design Inc. in 1995 after a 13 years career at successive levels of management in the user interface design group of Nortel Networks. Hans has over twenty years of human factors and product development experience in a variety of industries, and he works with clients in the U.S.A, Europe and Canada. Convergent Design Inc. has strong alliances with senior consultants in several countries, and provides you with all services required to design and build "products that understand peopleŠ".
Convergent Design Inc.
attention: Hans Bergman
P.O. Box 72160
Canada, K2K 2P4
tel: (613) 599 7759 or
fax: (613) 599 7448
"Products that understand people" is a registered trademark of Convergent Design Inc. Copyright Convergent Design Inc. 1995-2000. All rights reserved.